Digital accessibility: website errors are excluding millions of people

Digital access and inclusion matters to the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments worldwide – and it should matter to businesses too.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 19th was Global Accessibility Awareness Day – a day for businesses to think about how accessible their websites, products and services are for people with disabilities and impairments.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about digital access and inclusion, with the mission behind the day defined here:

“Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. Someone with a disability must be able to experience web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities.”

According to recent research, there is some way to go to ensure this is the case.

Digital accessibility: website errors are excluding millions of people

A study of one million home pages found 50.8 million distinct accessibility errors. That’s 50 errors per page! These include low contrast text, ‘empty’ links and no alternative text for images.

These issues and more can negatively affect the experience of those who navigate websites via their voice, and people with mental or cognitive disabilities and myriad other challenges.

Buckinghamshire Business First Group website accessibility

At Buckinghamshire Business First, we always strive to practice what we preach. We are currently in the process of developing the accessibility of all of our BBF Group websites to ensure the information, support and services we provide are accessible to all.

What did the research discover?

In February 2022, WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), conducted research on 1 million leading home pages and assessed them against Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Among the results of the WebAIM Millions project:

  • 96.8% home pages had at least one WCAG failure
  • 50,829,406 distinct accessibility errors were found across all home pages
  • An average of 50.8 errors per home page

Below is the list of the most common accessibility failures and the percentage of home pages they were found on. Click on the links to learn more about each of the issues and why they matter.

The 'Purple Pound' is worth £16 billion

Opening your business up to as many potential customers as possible means you can access a market worth an estimated £16 billion (otherwise known as the Purple Pound) and reflecting the status of our destination as the Birthplace of the Paralympics.

Research shows that three quarters of disabled people have turned their backs on a business because of poor accessibility or customer service, and three quarters have experienced barriers on websites they visit, often clicking away from inaccessible sites. High street shops, restaurants and pubs are among those missing out financially because disabled people are missing out on their services.

VisitEngland’s tips and support for boosting accessibility

We recently spoke to Ross Calladine, the Head of Business Support at VisitEngland, to get his advice on how businesses can become more accessible to people with disabilities and other challenges.

Watch this short video for his top tips for boosting accessibility, including on websites, and find out where to get help in creating an accessibility guide.

Business community ambassadors